Staggering number of Cape cops being investigated for misuse of state vehicles
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Cape Town - Nearly 800 police officers have abused the use of state vehicles – with disciplinary charges ranging from drunk driving to hit-and-run incidents – in the Western Cape alone over the past three financial years.
The staggering number of incidents were revealed this week in a written response to a question from DA MPL Reagan Allen to MEC for Community Safety Albert Fritz on how many police in the province have transgressed the SAPS’ policy on the use of state vehicles.
In the past financial year there were 229 transgressions, 261 for the previous financial year and 309 for the 2018/2019 financial year.
Over the past three years, 86 members received verbal warnings, another 76 were issued with written warnings, while 55 others received final written warnings. As few as 17 were not found guilty while two members resigned.
Currently, as many as 66 police officers are being investigated for abuse of state vehicles and another 25 are undergoing disciplinary action. There were also 30 cases registered for drunk-driving.
The majority of transgressions relate to reckless and negligent driving, traffic violations, and the unauthorised use of state vehicles, including vehicles used for shopping sprees or parked overnight at private residences.
A video which went viral on social media earlier this year shows a policeman and a taxi driver fighting after a collision in Khayelitsha.
The video shows the officer getting out of the police vehicle, opening the taxi’s door and assaulting the driver.
Police said the 33-year-old constable stationed at the Site B police station was arrested for drunk- and negligent driving and is scheduled to make his first court appearance on July 21.
Six weeks ago, Lingomso Puni, 5, was injured during a hit-and-run involving a police van. Lingomso was playing with friends on the pavement near his home when he was struck by the vehicle. Lingomso lost his front teeth and injured his leg.
His mother, Nosicelo, said while her child has recovered, she is still seeking justice for the incident.
“It is sad when the police, who are meant to protect us, are the ones who do this to our children. I’m determined to see those responsible being held accountable,” she said.
“Over the last few weeks I have not heard from the investigating officers unless I am the one who constantly phones and goes to the police station for updates because I know this might not go anywhere or they might try to sweep it under the carpet.”
Police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said a case of reckless and negligent driving was opened for investigation.
“According to information, a child was knocked by a marked police vehicle (that) drove away from the crime scene,” she said.
DA MPL and spokesperson for community safety, Allen, who visited the Puni family said enquiries with Langa SAPS, revealed that disciplinary charges had been filed against the two officers involved in the matter as it breached regulations pertaining to the use of vehicles.
He said reports showed that 1200 police vehicles were currently not servicing communities in the province.
“Given the already low vehicle base in the province, coupled with our crime challenges and the long-standing concern on underresourcing amongst SAPS, it is a great concern – to the point where the national government is failing its responsibility towards the people of the Western Cape through SAPS,” he said.
“At the next available slot, I will bring matters of transgression to the standing committee (in the provincial legislature), as it seriously damages the already inadequate resourcing of policing in our province.
“The percentage of transgressions to the total number of officers in our province is low, but this is a matter where one transgression is one too many when we consider the broader context of policing in the province. We must use what we have efficiently.”
Acting chairperson for the Western Cape Community Policing Forum’s board, Fransina Lukas said it was worrying that these incidents occurred in a province that was in need of resources.
“This impacts heavily on service delivery, especially in a province where resources such as manpower and vehicles are not adequate, particularly in poor communities where ... a station commander will tell you of the need for officers. Or community members who call into police stations and are told there is only one or two vehicles per cluster and there is a waiting time before police can respond to matters,” she said.
“It is very unfortunate that we have officers that abuse this resource that is required to service communities. As the CPF, we take these matters seriously and SAPS management has to deal with it effectively as it impacts on not just service delivery, but relations between the police and communities.”